Open Letter to Prosecutors #30

Dear Mr. Watkins,

Ever since I became aware of Bresha Meadows I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her. I was nearly her age when my parents finally divorced, my bother just a few years her senior. She doesn’t leave my thoughts because her life mirrors mine too much.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her to end up making such a decision. And the thing is, I don’t have to imagine very far. I grew up in an abusive home and remember watching things happen between my parents on purpose so I could testify in court for my mom. I remember having to call the police to my house because my neighbor didn’t want to when I went there for help. I remember seeing the aftermath of abuse. I remember my brother acting out violently and being hauled off to jail. I remember fear. So even knowing all that, I can’t imagine Bresha’s life and what she must have endured.

I remember being thrilled beyond words when my parents divorced and I was able to move out with just me and my mom. It was wondrous! A wondrous feeling Bresha may never get to know. A wondrous feeling Bresha DESERVES to know.

My brother spent one night in jail – I’m not even sure if it was the entire night. That was about 27 years ago. The pain he carries from that one night is with him every day. The betrayal of a system meant to help, the complete lack of support for our emotional and mental health still haunts.

I have now worked nearly my entire adult life to address interpersonal violence. As a survivor and trauma-informed professional I know this –
Children don’t need prisons, they need compassion.

I understand Bresha is on suicide watch. Incarceration is compounding the trauma she has known her whole life. She needs compassion now more than ever. You are at a precipice – You can show the world what compassion looks like. You can show the world how to embrace our children in their most difficult moments. You can show the world how communities can come together and foster healing. For not only Bresha and her family, but for the countless others, like mine, that are suffering in silence.

I implore you, release Bresha to be with her family and drop all charges against her.

In solidarity with survivors,
Jennifer Gabrenya


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